Doctors and WHO debate H1N1 threat

Jenny Decker RN's picture

Doctors and the WHO debate the H1N1 threat to the world. So far, H1N1 has proven to be relatively mild to moderate in its severity. Of course, there are some cases that have caused death. However, in comparison to the seasonal flu and other pandemics, the number is very small. Most swine flu deaths have occurred in people with underlying health problems.

Some doctors are questioning the recent warning sent out by WHO because even though there are deaths occurring, these are rare. To date, there have been just a little over 2000 deaths worldwide from the swine flu. The seasonal flu has been known to cause several thousand deaths annually in America alone.


The WHO is backing up their warning. Doctors all over the world have been reporting a severe form of the pandemic H1N1. These cases have been so severe that intensive care units have been needed. It seems that some intensive care units have been overwhelmed. There is concern that this may occur worldwide. Even doctors in America have seen some of the severe cases of swine flu. ABC News writes that Dr. Greg Poland, who is the director of the Vaccine Research Group at the Mayo Clinic, says that doctors he has worked with have described these cases as a bleeding lung infection that required extraordinary intensive therapy.

WHO sends out its warning not to panic the public, but to alert medical professionals and agencies of the possible need of intensive care units. Preparation is key to being ready. Using the warning to plan and prepare for possible future problems will ensure that as many people as possible are cared for when it is needed. Plans to keep those who require other services, such as those with cancer, must be in place so that these are not abandoned in favor of the swine flu.

At the same time, it is important for the public to understand that the cases they are hearing about are the ones that are the rare cases. Even hearing about one case in the news can cause the public to panic. In order for the spread of swine flu to be reduced, the public must be informed on how to do just that.

Extensive handwashing is the best way to prevent the spread of swine flu. H1N1 and seasonal flu can be best prevented in this way. Other ways include coughing into a shirt sleeve, but better than that, if one has a cough, they should be staying at home. Immediately call your physician if you have symptoms, as the tamiflu is only effective within the first 72 hours of the flu. Getting early treatment is essential.